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Viewpoint: Lean into resiliency to maintain and grow your business

Retail
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The strong women in our lives deserve to be celebrated. They are our moms, our sisters, our wives, best friends and mentors. They challenge and empower us to acknowledge women from every walk of life for their achievements, more than just one month a year.

As a female entrepreneur, this has always been part of my mission. My business, Hart Jewelry, is dedicated to brightening the lives of women around the world by creating jewelry designed to empower.

That’s why I thought I would share my story through a few lessons I’ve learned (and am still learning) and offer advice to fellow business owners after a challenging year.

Prepare for the pivot

Be willing to adapt. While our tassel earring was and will be our staple piece, COVID decreased the need for women to dress up. We pivoted and created motivational statement pieces — mantra bracelets and personalized charm necklaces designed here in Charleston.

From letters, numbers, lucky symbols and talismanic charms, my customers can design their own necklaces to reflect their values, goals, families, and identities. The beaded bracelets encourage the wearer to “Let go of anything that isn’t serving you” or that “If isn’t a ‘Hell yes!’ then it’s a no.” 

With the uncertainty 2020 brought, my earring sales plummeted. But the appetite for the bracelets and necklaces skyrocketed. Customers confronted change, and they looked to joyful jewelry for some grounding, positivity and affirmations. 

Be lean through social

Beginning in our earliest days, we relied entirely on the incredible — and cost effective — power of Instagram.

With a small, appointment only studio in downtown Charleston, Instagram is our store front. The pandemic limited in-person shopping options, but our digital storefront never closed its doors.

Instagram, like other social media platforms, casts a very wide net, far beyond the city in which we live.

Today, we have nearly 30,000 followers around the world. We started as a hometown business and have grown bigger than we could have ever imagined thanks to the power of this outlet.

Cost-effective tools like Reels and Highlights were integral in building our customer base. Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms are the new normal. Use them to your benefit, reach people you never imagined, and watch your business grow.

Instagram has also supported our connectivity. Whether it be through wholesale initiatives with buyers and shops across the country, or feedback from our followers allowing us to be more strategic with our product development and design.

Create a professional support network

As visibility and sales grew, the growth of the brand was further supported by a local community of women in Charleston. For the female business owner community in Charleston, the shared mentality is “A rising tide raises all ships.” Before Covid, I regularly met with my fellow female business-owner friends over wine to share business advice like Instagram strategics, social media tips and resources. During Covid, those moved to virtual. 

Ask yourself if the people around you are the people with whom you can achieve great things. If the answer is no, do not hesitate to look elsewhere for work and support — and don’t forget to lean on the strong women in your life.

Know your strengths  and weaknesses

The decision to bring on Curry Uflacker, my sister, as my marketing director/partner has been one of my best yet. One person cannot do it all. Our skill sets complement each other seamlessly, and with her help, the brand is on a fast, upward trajectory. Our growth is up more than 200% since the fall. We are excited to grow our team, creatively, professionally and philanthropically.

There is no better trust or honesty between two people than sisters.  I feel lucky that we both moved back to our fast-growing hometown to help shape its future for the better. With strong roots and community support in Charleston — along with the unparalleled global access provided by social media — we are able to grow a multi-million dollar brand with positive impact.

The most important value at Hart is empowerment and I hope this advice inspires other female entrepreneurs to get creative, take risks, and persevere through these challenging times.  Together, we will come out of this pandemic stronger than before.

Hart Hargerty is a native Charlestonian and owner of Hart Jewelry. Reach her at harthagerty.com or @hart_studio on Instagram.

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